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2 Marines Killed in Pakistan Honored

RESPONSE TO TERROR

Funerals: Mourners in Alabama and South Carolina hail the San Diego-based servicemen as heroes.

January 27, 2002|From Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Two of the seven Marines killed in the crash of a KC-130 transport and refueling plane in Pakistan were remembered Saturday as heroes who died for their country.

In Montgomery, mourners remembered Gunnery Sgt. Stephen L. Bryson, the plane's flight engineer, as a fearless leader.

"I say this to Stephen: You didn't run from the heat of battle. You didn't have to fight, but you did. He was a good soldier," the Rev. G.W.C. Richardson said at a memorial service.

More than 1,000 people attended the service for Bryson, a native of Montgomery, including Gov. Donald Siegelman, Mayor Bobby Bright and Marines stationed with the 36-year-old at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

"Stephen Bryson was a patriot, a peacemaker. He will not be forgotten," Siegelman said.

Sgt. Michael Grace told of the first day in Afghanistan, when the Marines had just landed at the base known as Camp Rhino.

He said that there were reports of enemy forces nearby and that the runway for landing the huge KC-130 was mostly a line in the sand.

"It was a very stressful combat situation. There was fear on everybody's faces. The only person who I did not see fear on his face was Stephen. He was always calm, cool and collected," Grace said.

Bryson was buried with full military honors after the nearly three-hour service.

Resolutions honoring Bryson from the state and the city were presented to his widow, Katrina, and his mother, Deloris, of Montgomery.

Also Saturday, about 700 people attended the funeral of Capt. Daniel G. McCollum at Union United Methodist Church in Irmo, S.C.

"He was a great American, a great South Carolinian, and we all mourn his loss," Gov. Jim Hodges said.

Capt. Rich Roberts spoke for McCollum's fellow Marines and presented McCollum's Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal to his widow, Jennifer, who is expecting the couple's child in July.

Roberts said McCollum, 29, of Richland, S.C., had flown more than 50 wartime missions refueling military aircraft.

He described McCollum as "an outstanding Marine and an exceptional pilot."

Army Capt. Matt McCollum remembered his brother as a role model.

"I looked up to Dan, and I wanted to be like him. We all are his legacy. It was good to have known you. Thank you," he said over his brother's flag-draped casket.

Daniel McCollum was buried at the Bush River Memorial Gardens.

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